Why Did People Stop Dying?

by Steve Barber

I don't remember exactly when I first became aware of it, but I have known for some time that people almost never die anymore. Don't believe me? Read the obituaries. You'll see. People pass away, pass on, or they're called Home to be with the Lord. But almost nobody dies. I'm not sure why this is, but I'm convinced that some people have gone to great lengths to make the language of death and dying confusing as all get out. Those people are called Obituary Writers.

People who write obits are the reason angels come to take some folks to Heaven while others apparently have to find their own way. But what if you're an atheist and don't believe in Heaven? What happens to you then? Who is there to guide you on your final journey, and where are you supposed to go anyhow? I'll bet the obit writers never thought of that one.

That's not all they haven't thought of. Here's more:

1.    When someone dies from a nasty disease, why does he have to have a courageous battle first? Aren't there any dead cancer sufferers who gave up the minute they got their diagnosis?

2.    Why, when people die, must they be either surrounded by their loving family or have their loving family by their side?  I'll tell you this, if I were concerned about my health and felt my life slipping away, the last thing I'd do is let my family near my sickbed. There's a causal relationship between circling relatives and death. I'm sure of it.

3.    Why can't I be sad when a friend or relative passes away? Why must I be bereaved instead? And did you know that when I go to the visitation, viewing or wake I won't see Uncle Rollo there, but I'll see Uncle Rollo's remains. His remains will, of course, be reposing in a slumber room. Why must dead people repose? Can't they simply lie there? And, you know, he's not exactly sleeping, so why do they put him in a slumber room?

4.    When dead people repose, they must do so in a coffin or casket. Coffins and caskets are overpriced boxes that have handles on the side, the top door open, the bottom door closed and contain a satin pillow on which to rest Uncle Rollo's remains' head, not that he notices. Why do they call them coffins when what they are are boxes?

5.      Uncle Rollo has had his jaw wired shut, little caps shoved up under his eyelids to keep his eyes closed, and his bodily fluids drained and replaced by noxious chemicals. The funeral home staff set his carcass under special soft lights and they've smeared makeup all over his visible body parts. Then people file past the casket and say, "My, my. Doesn't Uncle Rollo look natural?" Why do they do this and whom do they think they are kidding?

You want natural? I'll tell you what's natural. Cremation, that's what. Ashes to ashes and all that. And that's what I'm opting for when I finally cash in my chips, buy the farm, or exceed my 'sell by date.' But I promise you this. The first person that calls my ashes “creamains” is in for one heck of a haunting.

Steve Barber longed to be a shepherd, but never realized his childhood dream. Now, a lonely and bitter old man, he ekes out a marginal living by collecting returnable bottles, and by selling single cigarettes to small children. On rare occasions he blogs at http://whatdoyoumeanishouldstartablog.blogspot.com/


  1. LOL! Agreed on all points -- especially the "So-and-so looks so natural." Huh?? O.o

    A good beginning to your Ermas run. ;)

  2. They have 'natural' burials in my neck of the woods. A cardboard box and a hole in the ground. Much better for the environment. :) Congrats on your first Erma post!

  3. *curtsies*

    Why, thank you, ma'am.

  4. LOL! Perfect! My sister and I recently had that death conversation. We agree that neither of us wants to be presented like a buffet of the macabre for people to gawk and and say, "Oh, doesn't she look good?"
    No, she doesn't look good; she looks dead.
    And coffins. Is there such a thing as a pretty coffin? No. It's a coffin, no matter how you dress it up with satin and lace and stuff.
    Down south, we call it a wake when people stop by to gawk. So the dead person is actually reposing in a slumber room… at a wake? The last thing I want to happen is for dear reposing Aunt Fanny to wake. I think we'd all need Valium form then on.
    Nope. Nosiree, Bob. Shove my empty shell in an oven and do what thou wilt with the ashes. I hear they make good fertilizer. ;-)

  5. Amen, Sistah!

    Another member of the wake 'n bake society.

  6. I thought you were being surrounded by old people you wanted to die when I read the title. LOL... Nice post, Pup.

  7. Spanks, Rusty. True story. The other day I read about a woman who died "surrounded by her family at her side." Must have been a family of contortionists. How do they come up with this stuff?

  8. We seem to go out of the way to avoid the enviable.It is natural to die-that's part of the life cycle.We're born, we live, we die when the time comes. There's nothing heroic about it. The funeral industry has warped the concept of death, introducing artificial (and temporary)preservation of the body,playing to grieving loved ones who don't want to face the fact that the dead body eventually decays and returns to it's base elements by offering 'sealed' caskets and vaults to protect the remains....from what? Death can be a beautiful rite of Life.

  9. Indeed. And the hermetically sealed caskets actually make it easier for the anaerobic bacteria to do their work. There's the rub.

    Wait. This isn't funny anymore.

    Okay. A priest, a funeral director and a Chihuahua walk into a bar....

  10. Several years ago our local rebel-without-clue cashed in his chips on a motorcycle on the main highway. His pallbearers wore new white hoodies and the cops served warrants on the attendees. It was a beautiful thing. And for the next year, every twinkie in town claimed he was the father of her love child. I guess there are worse ways to cast off your earthly shackles and sojourn to the promised land.

  11. The guy's obituary must have been a hoot. I can see it now:

    Saturday night, the angels, riding a convoy of golden Hondas, spirited the soul of Bubba Grunge off to that Big Beer Hall in the Sky. He is survived by a dozen fetuses.

  12. I am from the South. We believe that death is a natural remedy for a potato salad shortage.

    Also: "Sell by date" *snork* That's funny, I don't care who y'are.

  13. Good stuff, Haggis!
    Carolee, if Aunt Fanny woke at her wake after sleeping in the slumber room, I might want some Jack Daniels on the rocks instead of Valium. I'd want to be awake and ask her a bunch of questions.


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